A true meaning in life: success with football
By Jenia Luchmann
Alina Zelutina, 19, believes that her long-lasting love for football brings not only satisfaction and joy to her life but also offers her a chance to interact with other young people. She says it gives true meaning to her life.
Alina and her twin sister’s father was killed when they were still small and their deaf mother did not really care much about them. The girls were neglected.
Her mother who originates from Moldova and currently lives in Odessa, Ukraine, says she doesn’t want to see her daughter and Alina claims she doesn’t want to see her mother either - the memory of neglect and lack of care from her mother’s side is too painful. Alina occasionally meets her only aunt who didn’t forget about her and her sister during the hard times of their childhood.
When Alina and her sister were born they lived in a hostel for deaf people along with their mother. However, Alina’s mother lost custody over her two daughters many years ago and when the girls turned five they were sent to a children’s home where they lived until they started to go to a boarding school for disabled children. She says they were sent there because of their hearing problems.
Alina is now helped by a UNICEF supported NGO called “Way Home” in Odessa, but her journey there was long and difficult.
As part a social outreach programme, Way Home organise summer camps every year, and Alina and her twin sister Oksana spent their summer vacations there while at boarding school. But, when the girls left the institution they had no idea what to do and where to go. Luckily they were invited to Way Home by a social worker and as Alina explains, she was happy to move there. Along with her sister, she quickly grew accustomed to her new life.
Over and over Alina emphasizes the importance of football in her life. She started playing football during her stay in the institution and later found an opportunity to continue her passion for the game. Her level of professionalism as a football player increased during competitions conducted among teams of vulnerable children from different regions in Ukraine with the support of UNICEF, and social workers have praised her sporting talent.
Alina’s favourite international football team is Real Madrid, but at home in Ukraine, her heart beats for Dynamo Kyiv. Alina admits that she is not really sure whether to choose her Marine profession over being a professional football player in her future life but says she wants to travel a lot in order to discover the world. Then again, she wants to continue to play football on a professional level. Somebody suggested applying to a Sports University and she says she will think about this as an option. One thing is clear: Alina’s dedication to football has become the most important part of her life and she is going to continue playing, even if her favourite sport remains her favourite pastime.